« ПредишнаНапред »
fecourse to, for want of power; for he whose cause is pleaded is able to compel—but he chooses to persuade. He draws us with the cords of a man, with the bands of love. *
4. Next, let us contemplate the subjects of this Kingdom, and it will soon appear that God is determined to shew by them the exceeding riches of his Grace, in his kindness towards them, through Christ Jesus. He predestinated them in his everlasting purpose, and chose them in Christ out of the world; He called them in his own time and manner, by his Spirit working in them-not choosing them for their good works, but creating them in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he had before ordained that they should walk in. Many of them were deeply' stained with guilt; drunkards, murderers-Can these be saved? It is the reign of Grace-they are washed; they are sanctified; they are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God! Absolved from guilt and condemnation—are they suffered to depart as innocent creatures, to begin their career anew? No; they would sin again, and their case would be worse than before. He therefore keeps them own--yes,
he makes them his own children! He hath predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the Glory of his Grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Moreover, know
ing the groveling disposition of their minds by nature, he gives his Holy Spirit to form their hearts anew—to raise their thoughts to high and heavenly things--to educate and discipline them for that state of Glory for which they are reserved. And because in this state of imperfect knowledge, they are in danger of losing sight of their high birth, and exalted destiny, this Spirit bears witness with their spirit, as often as it is necessary, that they are the children of God. And since, notwithstanding all that is done for them, they know not, as they ought to know, what to pray for, the Spirit speaks for them-making intercession within them. Is there a rising apprehension that these things shall not last; that time, which brings all other things to an end, shall see these blessings come to nothing! Dismiss your fears! whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom
he justified, them he also glorified.* The gifts and calling of God are such as he never repents of t He will visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless, his loving kindness will he not utterly take away, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail: It shall be established for ever as the moon, and the faithful witness in heaven. I In union with this is the doctrine of the text. Grace must reign unto eternal life." As sin never loosens its hold upon its slaves till it has ruined them beyond remedy, so grace never
Rom: viii, 30.
+ Rom. xi, 29.
Ps. Ixxxix, 32, 33, 37,
ceases to attend us till it has placed us beyond danger.
But here an objection must be met and answered. How is all this consistent with what we hear of God's holiness and hatred of sip? It will be thought a false, partial, and exaggerated representation. The Kingdom of Grace, if not visionary altogether, is far too agreeable to our natural feelingsmits existence is not credible. We rejoice from the text, that grace reigns, through righteousness-consistently with righteousness—and by means of righteousness. How is this effected? By Jesus Christ our Lord! The sacrifice of Christ reconciles all apparent inconsistencies, and brings to pass seeming impossibilities.
For first, by his having offered himself to bear the punishment of our sins, and God's accepting the substitution, it became possible for God to exercise mercy without disparagement to his justice. He could punish sin, and yet forgive it. In this way we may be as if we had never sinned. No species of punishment being intended for us, we are as free from condemnation as if we had been always perfectly innocent; or as if God were perfectly indifferent about sin, and would never punish it. On the other hand, sin does not go unpunished, for Christ suffered for it. But it will be asked, Is God's justice as much satisfied by Christ's suffering for sin, as if the whole human race had suffered for it? In answer to this we refer to the divine nature of Christ. If he be divine, no assignable number of creatures can equal him in value, and consequently the death of all creatures can never be such a costly saerifice to justice as his death. It will be asked whether it is analagous to God's proceedings that the guilty should escape, and the innocent suffer for him? We answer that it is. Such things would occur every day if men were found as willing to put themselves to trouble, and suffer for others, as Christ shewed himself to be.
Instances of voluntary suffering for others are very rare, through the selfishness of men: but it is easy to see that there is nothing in the constitution of things repugnant to the Gospel system. No disorder would arise in the world. were men as benevolent as Christ: on the contrary, much of the misery, and perhaps, much of the sin of it would be removed. The objection supposes that the sinner and the sufferer are perfectly distinct, whereas Christ and his people are one, by a very close and perfect union.
It may therefore be very consistent with God's righteousness to grant to one undeserving class, on account of their union to one who is deserving, those favors which he would otherwise have withheld from them. For the same reason we need no longer to be surprised that all the benefits and blessings which we have ventured from the word of God to affirm, belong to those that are one with Christ, by faith. For if they are indeed in Christ, and Christ in them, all the reward that he has merited for what he has done, in a relative capacity, may without hesitation be said to belong to us, by that right which re. sults from the union. If after all our jealousy for God's honor, and regard for what we have been always taught to consider as the first principle of religion, the holiness of God make us hesitate to embrace a doctrine, which apparently relaxes the obligations to holiness, it must be recollected, that we have the same evidence for the mysteries of redemption, as we have for the divine holiness and a future judgment: so that no revealed truth has a claim to our belief, superior to that which this has. We do not perceive that the reasoning employed to shew the reasonableness of this way of salvation is altogether inconclusive: we do perceive, and it is easy to shew, that the contrary doctrine, which would give pardon without atonement, is clogged with far more difficulties: but waving all argument, we appeal to scripture, and that we are confident will bear us out in every particular.
Let then the glorious truth be opposed no morelet it break down the barriers which ignorance and unbelief put before it, and let it have free course through the earth-let it be heard-let it be known, by you, . by all, that Grace reigns! Let it dwell in the mind, and be fixed in the memories—and let it touch, with transport, all the springs of life. O the transporting view which it gives us of the love of God! Why have we ever forgotten it? God